Advanced Training Techniques: Targeting the Short and Long Head of the Biceps

April 19, 2018

James Grage head of the biceps

In this week’s Advanced Training Techniques, we are going to cover specific exercises for the long head and short head of the biceps. When we curl up our arms to make a muscle, the inside is the short head of the biceps. The outside or peak, is the long head.

TARGET: Short Head of the Biceps

In order to target the short head of the biceps, we want to get our elbows out in front of us. You have to be disciplined and focus on keeping that elbow in the same spot. Here are three exercises for focusing on the short head of the biceps:

Spider Curls

Grab both dumbbells. Get the bench on a 45-degree angle. You can stay standing up with your chest on the edge of the bench and elbows out in front. You want to put your elbows in a fixed position and curl up. At the end of the curl, I bring my pinkies up nice and high. That’s supination and that’s going to really help you target the biceps.

Laying Bench Curls

Lay on the bench with your arms out. Place the dumbbells or curl bar in front of you. If you’re using a curl bar, take a wide grip. This brings our arms more in front of us. My arm is almost perpendicular to my body. It is like the opposite of skull crushers. We are bringing the bar right to our forehead. When I go down, my arms aren’t straight. I never fully straighten my arms for two reasons. When your arms are straight, it puts your tendon attachments in a weak position and it is easy to tear your biceps. The second reason is constant tension. By stopping short, I am keeping the tension on the muscle the whole time. Constant tension makes the set much harder.

Lat Pull Down Curls

You are going to sit on the bench like you are doing lat pulldowns. I like to take a slightly wider grip to target the short heads of the biceps. I lean back just a little and keep my elbows in a fixed position. Bring the bar right to the tip of your nose.

TARGET: Long Head of the Biceps

To target the long head of the biceps, we need to keep our elbows behind us. Here are three different exercises for targeting the long head of the biceps or that outer peak.

Reclined Seated Curls

We’re back at the bench— only now its raised up a little steeper than our previous, 45-degree angle. We are doing the exact opposite of the short head of the biceps when we put our elbows in front of our torso. Now we want to put our elbows behind our torso. When our elbows are behind us we need to stick to dumbbells or cables (as bars would hit our torsos). As you curl up, focus on supinating your hand at the top of the movement. Maximum supination lets us target the biceps. As you go down, let your hand fall into a neutral position.

Steep Reclined Seated Curls

Lower the bench almost to one click up from flat. Pick up a pair of dumbbells and sit back on the bench. It automatically puts your elbows behind your body. We are going to bring our arms forward just a little bit. You are keeping constant tension throughout the entire movement. Curl up, supination, stop short and bring it back.

Cable Machine Curls

Connect the handle to the low pulley. Get your arm behind you. The leg that is on the same side that you’re working on is your lead leg, so put that in front of you. You want to keep that torso nice and perpendicular. Arm behind you. Elbow in a fixed position. Curl up. Supinate that hand, squeeze it and bring it back.

If you missed part one of the series, check out Advanced Training Techniques: How Hand Position Affects Biceps Curls.

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All readers are advised to consult their physician before beginning any exercise and nutrition program. BPI Sports and the contributors do not accept any responsibility for injury sustained as a result of following the advice or suggestions contained within the content.

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